Technology executives like three things – control, certainty and results. Good for them, then, that the world of tech marketing, in the last few years, has been going through something of a revolution.
In the new era of digital marketing science, companies are focusing on measurable tactics whose levers they can influence.
Product virality, split tests, content marketing, paid ads, social media, search engine optimisation, lead magnets, tracked and optimised through engagements and conversions. Everyone is yearning for the machine in to which they can put a dollar and get four out in return, an increasingly self-serve world of success under one’s own steam.
For the marketing scientists, it would be easy to imagine that PR might struggle to prove its worth in the new marketing stack. But that’s far from the whole story.
Not only have PR practitioners, in the last five years, broadened their palette of offerings to encompass many of the tactics above. Even the most successful of software companies can be found proselytising public relations.
For example, in 2013, Slack used a “press blitz” to gain 8,000 users during its first week in beta, bringing the noted tech investment firm First Round to remark: “The power of traditional media must be your primary concern.” Salesforce founder Marc Benioff recommends 14 PR strategies to software startups.
It’s not just them. I heard from four other technology executives who claim PR, or what is has morphed in to, has transformed their business trajectory in real, measurable ways.
Gas Tag – press produced multi-million investment
Its mission may be stopping domestic gas appliances from exploding but, after gaining media exposure, one Liverpool start-up is, well, blowing up.
“Gas Tag secured a profile piece in The Times shortly after launch and this resulted in private equity investment valuing our company at £20 million, and considerable growth ahead our original plan,” says Guy Murphy from the company, whose NFC chip provides gas engineers with proof of historical works carried out by safety-compliant peers.
“The article pushed our organisation out from the niche housing sector and into the national spotlight,” Murphy adds. “It resulted in more interest in our product and, from there, we secured the additional investment. There was a clear trajectory change after the article. This has allowed us to grow the team considerably and move our product roadmap forward.”
3Doodler – campaign drew $2.3 million sales in 10 days
Daniel Cowen only wanted to raise $30,000 in pre-orders. But, after he engaged a PR agency on a campaign to launch his crowdfunder, the co-inventor of 3Doodler, a 3D-printing pen, exceeded that target by 7,667%.
3Doodler’s agency went outside of the traditional media relations box, with a multi-layered campaign – creating a viral video centrepiece and a community engagement plan to snare buyer interest, and enticing media with 3D models of reporters.
“We were overwhelmed by the response online, Cowen, whose campaign also earned 3Doodler appearances in The Simpsons and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “The campaign propelled us to become one of the most successful Kickstarter projects to date thanks to PR outreach alone.
“The right message, creative approach to reach the right stakeholders and a focus on real world targets raised over $2 million in just 10 days. It shows the real power of a successful communications campaign. Hiring a PR agency is one of the best decisions we’ve made as a business.”
Bathrooms.com – #1 in Google after a sweet stunt
A decade after it stole an early march in the bathrooms products ecommerce space, Bathrooms.com’s search ranking went down the plug hole – until a crafty campaign restored its leadership in search results.
Founder Ian Monks’ PR agency seized on consumers misspelling “bathroom suites” as “bathroom sweets”, creating and listing for sale an entire bathroom suite made out of chocolate, all 9.4 million calories of it. International publishers, from MSN and HouseBeautiful to ABC News and Nieuwsblad, lapped it up, and linked back – catapulting Bathrooms.com from #6 to #1 in search results for “bathroom suites” in just seven months.
“The campaign was highly creative and shows how powerful and fully thought out the best PR can be,” says founder Ian Monk, who left after Bathrooms.com was acquired by Travis Perkins, a major builders merchant and home improvement retailer.
Mention Me – coverage boosted traffic 29%
As VP of product and marketing at Mention Me – a platform helping businesses keep customers happy with referral offers, coupon codes and NPS surveys – Courtney Wylie likes marketing that drives quantifiable results. And that’s something she says she also gets from PR.
“Our Series A funding raise PR of nine pieces of coverage resulted in a 238% increase in referral traffic to the site and a 29% increase in direct traffic in the two weeks following the funding press coverage,” Wylie tells me. “A recent research report PR news story published on Econsultancy, accounted for 20% of all referral traffic.”
“I believe strongly in the value of PR – we’re a scale-up looking to build our business through content marketing and word of mouth. The results have tangibly helped us grow our business through the impact on our reputation – highlighted through external conversations and our recruitment process – but also through SEO, social and in-bound links. It has been invaluable.”